Dorm life is definitely not for everyone. Living off campus can be an option that some people prefer over living in the dorms. At Grove City College, students are allowed to commute if they live close by with their parents or guardians, or if they are married. With nearly 2,500 students attending, only about 5% of students choose to commute. I had the opportunity to talk with a student about his experiences commuting for the past three years.
Pro’s of Commuting
Zach Ferguson is a senior Communications major with a minor in Studio Art. Growing up in Butler, PA, Zach commutes about 30 minutes to campus every weekday. He explained, “I save about $9,000 per year by commuting, and because I am paying for college on my own it made sense.” Saving on the cost of room and board is one of the biggest benefits of commuting rather than living on campus. Zach said, “Getting to go home every day and keeping the same friends from my hometown that go to different schools is a big plus. I also still go to the same church nearby where my best friend is the pastor.” Knowing the area and having the benefit of a separate space away from campus is always a huge benefit of living near a college town.
Con’s of Commuting
While there are plenty of good things about living at home and commuting, there are also a lot of downsides to being away from campus. Zach discussed, “It’s definitely hard to make friends on campus because I’m not on campus too much. It’s hard to find community.” Being a part of the campus experience with other people is one of the main factors that build community here at Grove City College. Zach explained how he is friends with other commuters, and that there is community within that, but he wishes he had more people to connect with on campus. “I’m not thrilled about living in dorms,” he said, “but I wish I would have done it for the people.”
Being a commuter, it can be more difficult to get involved with campus groups and events. However, because he is able to live in the same area, Zach has an off campus job that causes his schedule to be more stacked than normal. He explained, “When I was a freshman and sophomore I had a different schedule, so it was easier to be on campus, but now I live a half hour away with a job, so coming to school feels like I’m coming to my job.”
Is it Worth the Money?
All in all, Zach said he would not recommend commuting. “You save money, but you miss out. It’s hard to balance work, school, and personal life when you live in a different place,” he said. During the four years you spend at college, it is important to be present in the time and place. While commuting may be a good option for you, it’s helpful to have an insider perspective on what it is like once the work load begins. The college years go by quickly and it’s important to consider where you want to invest your time while you’re here, but remember that Zach’s perspective is only one of the many opinions held by communters at Grove City.